This time of year, many of us are reevaluating several aspects of our lives — our eating habits, our fitness goals, our morning routines, our financial plans, and more. Plus, this is an opportune time to refresh your home, so you can enter the new year with a calm, clean and well-maintained environment.
Here is a comprehensive list of tasks you can complete at home to start the new year with a clean slate! We’ve included manageable tasks related to home maintenance, decluttering and cleaning, all focused on keeping your home happy and healthy for years and years to come.
Refresh your pantry and fridge. Remove all items from your pantry and fridge and wipe down each shelf and drawer. Then, go through each item and discard anything that is expired or you no longer need. Organize your food by category and put them back in a thoughtful way; you may need to purchase some clean organizational bins and other products so you can easily see your food!
Go through paperwork. Tackle that pile of paperwork (mail, medical records, bills, etc.) and decide what needs to stay and what can go. Then, either digitize (scan or take a photo) of it or store it in an organized file system. And the rest can either be recycled or shredded, if it contains sensitive information.
Do minor repairs you’ve been meaning to do. While you’re in a motivated headspace, take some time to tackle all of the minor repairs you’ve had on your to-do list, like filling nail holes, repairing leaky faucets, touching up trim with paint, etc. Whip out your toolbox and walk through the house to see what needs to be done! And if there’s anything you don’t know how to do, reach out to a handyman to do it for you.
Go through closets and dresser drawers to find clothes to donate. ‘Tis the season to declutter! And our closets and drawers seem to gather the most clutter over the year. Take an afternoon to pile up all your clothing in one place, then go through it item by item to see what should stay and what can be donated to a local shelter or thrift store. Seeing it all in one place will motivate you to pare down your wardrobe!
Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You can perform a visual inspection by removing the detector from its mounting bracket and checking its expiration date. While you’re doing so, check for any debris, which can clog detectors and prevent them from working correctly. Most smoke alarms last about 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors expire after 5-7 years. If yours is expired, it’s time to replace it! You can also check the alarm by holding down the test button for a few seconds until you hear the piercing sound.
Clean out dryer vent duct. Lint buildup in your dryer vent is a major fire hazard, especially during the fall and winter. Get your dryer vent inspected and cleaned by a professional who specializes in ductwork — or follow these instructions to clean it out yourself!
Check for drafts around doors and windows. Winter is the ideal time to check for any gaps around your doors and windows, which may be letting in cold air and letting out warm air (and vice versa during the warmer months). These gaps may be small, but they can hike up your energy bill over time! If you discover any cracks around your doors and windows, take some time to fill them with caulk or weather stripping. Here are a few ways you can check for drafts on your windows and doors!
Drain hot water heater. Believe it or not, sediment can collect in the bottom of your hot water heater over time, which can affect its performance and longevity. Follow these steps to properly drain your hot water heater to keep it running for years to come!
Look for water damage. Water damage can cause major destruction to homes — and can even be hazardous to your health. There are several signs to look for, including dark or wet spots, sounds of running water, a moldy or mildewy smell, rusting, warping, and an increase in your water bill. If you think your home may have water damage, get it treated right away!
Check your fire extinguisher. You don’t want to find out your fire extinguisher doesn’t work while there is an active fire in your home. At least once a year, check the gauge to ensure it is still holding the proper pressure and make sure the hose is not dry-rotted. Plus, check the date it was certified or manufactured, as most non-rechargeable extinguishers need to be replaced about every 10 years.
Look for signs of termites. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites are responsible for more than $5 billion in damages in homes throughout the U.S. each year. Make sure you’re not one of those homes by being aware of the early signs of termites, which includes mud tubes, stuck windows or doors, damage under paint or wallpaper, and termite droppings or discarded wings. If you’re uncertain, hire a pest control professional to get an expert opinion and treatment plan in place!
Vacuum refrigerator coils. It’s time to pull out your refrigerator to do something many fail to do each year: clean out the refrigerator coils. And while you’re there, empty and clean the drip trays! It’s likely that dirt and dust have collected in the air passages under your fridge, and the best way to clear it out is with a vacuum. This will improve efficiency and save energy.
Clean out dishwasher. Although it seems like a tool designed to clean would always be clean, dishwashers need to be cleaned every once in a while. Here is more information about cleaning your dishwasher, including instructions, how often you should clean it, etc.
Clean your bathroom exhaust fan. While you have the vacuum out, clean out your bathroom exhaust fan to remove any debris, such as lint, dust, hair and more. Each fan is different, but most are easy to remove and clean, and will run more efficiently once they are cleared out.
Clean out sink and bathtub drains. If your drain is draining water a little slower or beginning to pool in the sink or tub, it’s likely that it’s clogged with hair and other debris. Get ahead of the problem by removing any blockage and/or pouring a solution down the drain, like baking soda and white vinegar!
Store and organize holiday decor. Now that Christmas has come and gone, it’s time to store your holiday decor until next year. Take time to put it away in a thoughtful and organized manner, utilizing labels and bins to make things easy to find next year. Your future self will thank you!
Dust off ceiling fan blades. Fan blades are a magnet for dust — especially when they sit idle during the fall and winter months. Engulf each blade in a pillowcase, which will conveniently capture the majority of the dust so you don’t spread it everywhere — or get it in your eyes and nose!
Vacuum furniture. Refresh your living spaces by giving your furniture a good vacuum to remove any dust, dirt, pet hair or human hair. You might even take it a step further by using an upholstery vacuum cleaner, which utilizes water to deep-clean carpet and upholstery.
Wipe down blinds. Don’t wait until spring to refresh your blinds and window coverings. Simply get a dry microfiber cloth and wipe in a downward motion, so the blinds don’t pop off. Then, do the same to the reverse side.
Plan ahead for maintenance tasks the rest of the year. This time of year, you can’t do some of the necessary outdoor tasks, like cleaning gutters, inspecting your roof, cleaning out the garage, repairing the deck, etc. Make a plan for what you will tackle later this year — and when you plan to do it.
Happy New Year!
What home projects and maintenance tasks are on your to-do list as we enter the new year? Let us know in the comments below!
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